This Christmas was unique for our family: rather than spending it in McCall, Idaho with Grandma, we stayed at home. It was great! Spent a ton of down time with the kids, achieved digital bliss with video games, and spent a lot of time catching up with different friends.

Misha and I have so many great friendships. The business of ministry and five children make it difficult to keep in touch with everyone. This vacation was a great opportunity to slow down and enjoy life with many of our friends.

I was thinking about a single truth: great friendships don’t just happen, they take work. Here’s the kind of work I think they need and questions I was reflecting on:

With my friendships:

  • Am I as thankful as I ought to be?
  • Am I as prayerful as I ought to be?
  • Am I as present as I ought to be?
  • Am I as engaged as I ought to be?
  • Am I as encouraging as I ought to be?
  • Am I as forgiving as I ought to be?

Thankful and prayerful are self explanatory. Present and engaged are nuanced: By present I mean actively listening. . . I like to tell stories, and sometimes I become too much the center of attention. Storytelling is good, but in moderation. By engaged I mean caring about what God is doing in their life and setting aside my agenda. Many of the hang out times this break were unplanned and “interrupted” and I needed to make an effort to stop what I was doing (mentally) and engage the gift of spending time with friends.

I don’t want to be satisfied and comfortable with the current status of my friendships. They are great! I’m blessed more than a person ought to be. HOWEVER: I don’t want to give up on them getting better.

When are are very close with someone, deep ruts from from regularly followed patterns of communication and action. Deep ruts lead to a wide sense of comfort. In comfort, we are distant from change. It is a madness of this world that a great good can also become a great evil! Intimacy is great until it leads to complacency.

Greater friendship will always exist; it’s my responsibility not to forget and to go forward with everything I’ve got. Anything less short changes my involvement with God’s work.